The Twelfth Fret ~ Since 1977 ~

Gibson Super 400 Archtop Electric Natural, 1969

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The Gibson Super 400 strode above most others when giant archtops roamed the earth, and is still one of the largest production guitars made. Making its introduction in 1934 as the ‘Super L-5 Deluxe’, the non-cutaway model was quickly joined by a cutaway model, initially named the Super 400 P for ‘Premiere’. The ‘400’ designation was originally a reference to the price. Over time, the cutaway has fluctuated between Venetian (rounded) and Florentine (pointed) style; more recently the cutaway style was an option the person making the customer could specify.

These were top of the line for acoustic archtop guitars, and were played by many top artists – Merle Travis and Scotty Moore being two.

Here we’re looking at an very good condition 1969 cutaway model Gibson Super 400 Archtop electric. The original pickguard has deteriorating so it was removed, placed the case, and a LeGrande pickguard installed. The serial number on the label and back of head dates it to somewhere in 1969. Gibson labels are applied during the final setup process, so it’s possible that this guitar was started in 1968 but completed and delivered in 1969. 1969 was also a year where the rounded Venetian cutaway was stock, after a shift to pointed, Florentine in 1960.

Because of its heritage as an acoustic archtop, the Gibson Super 400 has a huge, 18 inch (457.2mm) wide body built with a carved, solid Spruce top and carved, solid Figured Maple back. The sides are also solid Figured Maple but the body blocks are Mahogany. The neck is three pieces of Figured Maple for stability, with Walnut inserts between the Maple sections. The head plate is a black fibre material with Mother of Pearl inlaid for the Gibson logo and split-diamond decoration. The backstrap and stinger are paint, again with a Mother of Pearl logo. The bridge is Rosewood, and the multi-bound fingerboard is Ebony with Mother of Pearl split-block inlays. Interestingly, for the size of this guitar, the fingerboard is one of the narrowest available at 1.552 inches (1-9/16ths) or 39.42mm.

The tuners are gold-plated Grover Imperials with metal keystone buttons, and the tailpiece is specific to the Super 400 and engraved with that name though it is somewhat worn in the center. The oval orange label is in good condition and quite readable, identifying it as “Style: CES” for Cutaway Electric Spanish, and “Model: Super 400”.

The natural, nitrocellulose lacquer finish is in good condition, and it looks like the player’s left thumb went over the fingerboard, wearing the neck finish more on the bass side than the treble. The finish has aged beautifully.

This 1969 Gibson Super 400 is very nice to play. It’s big, but it is comfortable and relatively light. Strung with flat wounds, the action is relatively low, and the guitar is quite resonant and lively. The narrow fingerboard makes some of the more convoluted Travis chord fingerings a bit more reachable!

The original black Gibson hard shell case is included, and as noted contains the original pick-guard.

These models are currently out of the standard Gibson catalogs; they don’t seem to be completely discontinued but are not advertised.


 

Price: $19,999.99 CAD
  • Model: Super 400
  • Year: 1969
  • Finish Natural
  • Class: Vintage
  • Serial Number: 538711, dates to 1969 at Kalamazoo Michigan.
  • Country of Origin: USA
  • Condition: Very Good
  • Date Posted: 13/12/2022

  • Consignment Item

  • Including original Hard case
  • Instrument Weight: 7.542lbs 3.42kg
  • Scale Length: 25.315in 643mm
  • Nut Width: 1.552in 39.42mm
Gibson Website

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